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Before you share your prescription, think again

Your surgery went well, and you recovered quickly, so you did not finish the narcotic pain killers your doctor prescribed. When a coworker complained of pain, you thought nothing of sharing a few pills with him or her. Or perhaps a friend was struggling to get through a tough week at school, so you gave him or her a few of your Adderall to help with studying. Maybe you even handed over the prescription bottle. Perhaps you went as far as having your prescription refilled for your friend or coworker.

At the time, your good-intentioned actions may have seemed generous to you. After all, what's the problem? You were not going to use the pills, and it seemed a waste to just throw them away. However, medications that come in prescription form are under heavy regulation because they have dangerous potential for misuse, including addiction. If you are facing criminal charges for distributing drugs, you have reason for concern.

You cannot control what happens next

Perhaps your efforts to help your friend did not go as you planned. Because you did not know if your friend or coworker was taking other medications or had a specific medical condition, the pills you innocently shared may have caused a serious reaction, leading to a medical emergency. This is one reason why patients can only obtain these medications by prescription, so a doctor can monitor their health and choose the best course of action based on their special medical needs.

Even if the medication does not cause a bad reaction, you still share in the consequences if your friend decides to sell the drugs you share, becomes addicted or overdoses. These may seem unreasonable possibilities, but the growing number of families in Arizona and across the country that are grappling with the effects of prescription drug addiction is testament to the fact that it is a very real potential.

The consequences

Once you hand over part or all of your prescription, and even if your friend does not offer to pay for it, you are distributing drugs in the eyes of the law. In some cases, you do not have to physically hand over the drugs. Your intention to distribute the prescription to someone else -- for example, by refilling the prescription -- may be enough for authorities to charge you with distribution.

A conviction for drug distribution may result in a long prison term, which could be more severe if the charges include prescription fraud. With drug charges on your record, your future may be a constant struggle since you may not qualify for many fields of employment. Seeking legal assistance is critical if you are facing charges of distribution for sharing your prescription.

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